Conservative movement: Stop ‘Jewish state’ bill

US Jewish leadership calls on Netanyahu to cease pushing for law that ‘risks further eroding values of religious pluralism’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on November 26, 2014 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on November 26, 2014 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Conservative/Masorati movement called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop advancing legislation of the “Jewish state” bill in a joint statement released by the group’s leadership Sunday.

The US Conservative leaders expressed concern that the bill’s current version would “erode the democratic character of Israel.”

“We call upon Israel’s political leadership to refrain from passage of any bill that weakens the social contract already effectively expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Basic Laws which delineate Israel’s most precious ethical, moral and democratic political values,” read the statement signed by the combined leadership of Conservative synagogues and rabbis in America.

“Current versions of a new nationality bill now under discussion will erode, rather than strengthen, the democratic character of Israel. Strong and clear opposition by leading figures currently in office, including President Reuven Rivlin, raise important issues of the possible erosion of democratic freedoms resulting from this bill, the risk of attrition of the rights of Arabs and other minorities and the risk of further eroding values of religious pluralism,” the statement read.

The Conservative/Masorati movement’s objections to the bill comes in the wake of harsh criticism from Israeli politicians, including ministers in Netanyhu’s government who have threatened to break ranks with the coalition if the bill was brought to the plenum in its current form.

The coalition is currently teetering over the “Jewish state” bill, the budget and other differences, following a stormy meeting between the prime minister and Finance Minister Yair Lapid in which Netanyahu presented demands to keep the government running, demands he knew Lapid could not accept. Each accused the other of dragging Israelis to new elections.

If passed into law, bill would enshrine Israel as the Jewish nation-state and ensure national self-determination and individual rights for Jews, but only individual rights for non-Jewish citizens. Opponents say the bill alienates Israel’s Arab and Druze minorities.

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